Loch Long Salmon to appeal against planning decision
Loch Long Salmon is to appeal against the decision to turn down the company’s application to build Scotland’s first semi-closed fish farm.
The proposed farm at Beinn Reithe, near Arrochar, fell within the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, and the Park’s board rejected the company’s planning application in October last year.
Announcing the appeal, the company said: “Loch Long Salmon are disappointed that Officers and the Board of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park opposed the plans and believe the decision was fundamentally flawed and based on fear and a misunderstanding of the technology and its potential to transform the Scottish aquaculture sector.”
Loch Long Salmon (LLS) argues that the proposed semi-closed containment farm would deliver high-skilled jobs and contribute to the Circular Economy, as well as demonstrate the commercial viability of this farming system.
LLS is a joint venture between Simply Blue Aquaculture, Trimara Services and Golden Acre Foods.
In making its initial application, LLS argued that the semi-closed containment system being proposed would avoid most of the problems associated with conventional net-pen fish farming, for example by protecting the fish from seals and sea lice and by ensuring that most of the waste from the farm could be collected and used for fertiliser or fuel. An impermeable membrane would have surrounded the pens, with water being pumped from lower levels in the loch.
The project was supported by the closest community council and a cross-party group of Councillors, MSPs and the local MP. The Scottish Government said it believed the project is of “national significance” and the technology being proposed has been endorsed by environmental groups such as the Atlantic Salmon Trust, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust.
Officers at the National Park Authority opposed the plans, however, and the Authority’s Convenor James Stuart said: “It is our view that such a nationally important landscape is not the appropriate location to host development of such an industrial scale and where the risk of an escape of farmed fish could impact on designated water courses.”
Stewart Hawthorn, Managing Director of Loch Long Salmon, said: “We believe the National Park’s decision to prevent this proven, transformative technology being brought to Scotland for the first time was based on fear and a lack of knowledge and understanding.”
“The National Park has no experience of handling this kind of application and, rather than listening to experts such as NatureScot, SEPA and Forestry & Land Scotland, who all said the project could go ahead, they based their view on a misunderstanding that our plans were the same as existing open net salmon farms. This is fundamentally flawed.”